Thursday, October 07, 2010

Michigan Bayous

Not until a recent visit to the vicinity of Grand Haven did I realize that Michigan has bayous, or at least has water features in which the term “bayou” has been incorporated into the name. Having always associated a bayou with the coastal streams and marshes of the Gulf Coast, especially Louisiana, I was surprised to find this to be true.

According to Wikipedia, a bayou "is a body of water typically found in flat, low-lying areas, and can refer either to an extremely slow-moving stream or river (often with a poorly defined shoreline), or to a marshy lake or wetland."

The Geographic Names Information System (GNIS) lists at least 50 distinct water features in Michigan that have been denoted as bayous. These 50 features are distributed among 9 different counties, being most numerous in Ottawa (14) and Manistee (11), where they are probably associated with the lower reaches of the Grand and Manistee rivers, respectively. The GNIS classifies these features variously as guts (16), bays (14), swamps (8), lakes (7), and streams (5).

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